Footy’s not al­ways a laugh­ing mat­ter on Be­fore the Game, Sa­man­tha Lane tells Guy Davis.

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know how to party, is that this is a team that en­joys each other’s com­pany. And eight years of con­tin­ued pop­u­lar­ity would in­di­cate that the ca­ma­raderie is one of the se­crets of the show’s suc­cess.

“ What­ever en­ergy it has, it’s some­thing that hap­pens or­gan­i­cally and spon­ta­neously,” Lane said. “ We ob­vi­ously like one an­other, like sit­ting down to­gether and hav­ing a laugh. And we crack gags at the ex­pense of each other at times but I gen­uinely want to know what Mick Mol­loy thinks about Rich­mond – he knows more about that club than me!”

The pres­ence of comic tal­ents such as Mol­loy, Dave Hughes, Lehmo and for­mer AFL player Ryan Fitzger­ald along­side journos such as Lane and An­drew Ma­her might in­di­cate that Be­fore the Game takes a fairly fun ap­proach to footy.

But Lane is quick to point out that the co­me­di­ans on the panel bring plenty of in­sight and, more im­por­tantly, plenty of ac­cess to the in­ner work­ings of the clubs they fol­low.

“ Ev­ery­one on the panel is gen­uinely a footy fan and they all re­ally think about the game,” she said. “ It’s a con­nected fan’s opin­ion – we can all have opin­ions but we

De­spite its con­tin­gent of co­me­di­ans, Be­fore the Game also knows the im­por­tance of strik­ing a bal­ance be­tween hu­mour and se­ri­ous anal­y­sis of is­sues af­fect­ing the AFL.

“ A cou­ple of weeks ago, for in­stance, Travis Tuck’s drug use was the biggest story in footy and we all knew there was a line there that shouldn’t be crossed,” Lane said.

“ Of course, if you asked any of the guys on the panel, they’d tell you I’m al­ways can’t all, as Dave did re­cently, get ac­cess to the Carl­ton rooms af­ter the game. But that’s the re­al­ity of Dave Hughes. These guys get ac­cess the av­er­age fan would kill for, and they get great info.” flag­ging things as in­ap­pro­pri­ate. I’m ap­par­ently the moral com­pass of the show.”

Lane’s also the only woman on the Be­fore the Game panel, and she says her gen­der brings a “ com­pletely jus­ti­fied” di­ver­sity to the line-up. “ Roughly 50 per cent of mem­ber­ship in AFL clubs is fe­male, so ar­guably there should be an­other woman or two on the Be­fore the Game panel,” she laughed.

Speak­ing a cou­ple of weeks be­fore the AFL Grand Fi­nal, Lane ad­mit­ted that she couldn’t con­fi­dently pre­dict who’d be fac­ing off on that one day in Septem­ber, al­though she was fairly cer­tain St Kilda (“ such a tough and well-skilled unit”) would be one of the teams tak­ing part.

“ No mat­ter which team you bar­rack for, ev­ery­one gets ex­cited about Septem­ber,” she said. “ We all want to know what Colling­wood will do and how the Bull­dogs will re­spond, so if we were try­ing to fake it on Be­fore the Game we’d be found out pretty quickly.

“ This show wouldn’t have been around so long if it didn’t have a gen­uine love of footy at the heart of it.”

Fi­nals fever: Lane with her co-hosts, from left, Ryan Fitzger­ald, Mick Mol­loy, An­thony “ Lehmo” Lehmann, Dave Hughes and An­drew Ma­her.

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